Howard County teams at a glance HOWARD COUNTY BASEBALL PREVIEW

March 21, 1997|By Rick Belz

Atholton Raiders

1996 record: 18-5 overall, 11-2 league. (County, region champs)

Coach: Kevin Kelly

Top players: Sean Williams, Sr., SS, P; Doug Airel, Jr., P; Chris Russ, Sr., P, 1B; Scott Sabot, Sr., P, 3B; Corey Cannell, Sr., 2B, P; Bent Hooper, Sr., OF; Chris Madiou, Sr., C; Ryan Lambert, Sr., OF; Ryan Schultz, Jr., OF.

Outlook: Atholton has pitching, speed and defense and is a veteran team. The main questions are how well the Raiders will hit, and how well replacements perform at catcher and second base.

Centennial Eagles

1996 record: 8-11 overall, 6-6 league

Coach: Ron Martin

Top players: Denny Chapman, Sr., P, SS; Matt Deuchler, So., C, OF; Mike Martin, So., SS; Nate Ochsner, Fr., P; Jason Gordon, Sr., P, OF; Pat Conners, Jr., OF, C; John Tokasz, Sr., 2B; Jamie McDonald, Jr., 1B; Shawn Cudzilo, So., DH, OF; Chris Tiedemann, So., P, INF.

Outlook: The Eagles have an NCAA Division I pitcher who can throw 88-to-90 mph in Chapman, and a bunch of young talent that might come together to make Centennial a solid contender.

Chapelgate Flames

1996 record: 10-4-1 overall, 8-1 league

Coach: Bunk Nolan

Top players: Chris Cox, Jr., P; Jeremy Nolan, Jr., P, OF; Josh Van Ness, Sr., 1B; Chris Davidson, So., P, SS; Mark Dever, So. C, OF; Chris Miller, Sr., C.

Outlook: Nolan was the Christian Schools Athletic Association Most Valuable Player last season as Chapelgate won the league and Nolan, the coach's son, batted .677 with a 5-1 pitching record. The Flames have moved into the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Division this season. Cox is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound submarine-style pitcher who was 3-0 last season. "Our strength is our pitching," Nolan said. Davidson is the No. 3 pitcher and batted .577. Dever is a transfer from Colorado who can hit, run and field.

Glenelg Gladiators

1996 record: 18-6 overall, 10-4 league

Coach: Tom Thrasher

Top players: Dave Boteler, Sr., C; Jeremy Pendleton, Sr., P, OF; Brent Waskey, Sr., OF; Dave Harris, Jr., P, SS; Jeff Starcher, So., P, 2B; Dan Kurdziel, Jr., P; Brandon Robertson, So., P.

Outlook: The Gladiators have a new coach and return just three starters -- Boteler, Waskey and Harris -- from a team that finished second in the county and lost in the state semifinals to Northeast. Waskey is a strong hitter and made second-team All-County. The Gladiators lack a senior pitcher, but Kurdziel and Pendleton both throw hard. "We're young with four sophomores up from JV," said Thrasher, who replaces Ed Ashwell. "We'll be chasing Atholton, Mount Hebron and Centennial." Dave Boteler thinks Glenelg will be in the hunt. "We're young, but we're still talented. We'll be good."

Hammond Golden Bears

1996 record: 8-12 overall, 4-10 league

Coach: Bob Maxey

Top players: Josh Zillmer, Sr., OF; Brian Pietryka, Jr., SS; Shane Price, Sr., 1B; Mike Cousins, So., 2B; Austin Smith, Jr., C; Jimmy McDonald, Sr., P; Ken Beck, Jr., P, OF; Nick Peter, Jr., P; Kevin Malloy, Sr., P.

Outlook: "If the pitching holds up, we'll be very competitive," Maxey said. "We have more speed and should score runs. The kids feel good about themselves." Pietryka is one of the league's top shortstops. Zillmer didn't play the last two years but is a gifted player. Hammond lost one starter to the new eligibility rule and one moved to Texas.

Howard Lions

1996 record: 6-11 overall, 4-8 league

Coach: Rich Jenkins

Top players: Jason Redmond, Sr., P; B. J. Barass, Sr., P; Kacy Jenkins, Sr., C; Brent Hanauer, Jr., P; Matt Cisna, Jr., P; Anthony Aceves, So., INF.

Outlook: Pitching should be the team's strength for new coach Rich Jenkins, who replaced Matt Forsyth. Redmond, a lefty, has bulked up with weightlifting. Hanauer, at 6-foot-6, worked with pro teacher Jerry Bark and played for the Columbia Reds last summer. Cisna is a muscular lefty. Jenkins, the coach's son, has a good bat. "We could be good by the end of the season if we learn to hit," coach Jenkins said. "Our defense is decent."

Long Reach Lightning

1996 record: No team

oach: Tim O'Brien

Top players: Greg Matusewitch, Jr., P, 3B; Matt Adkins, Jr., C; Robert Hiller, Jr., OF; Chet Hall, Jr., OF.

Outlook: The Lightning is extremely inexperienced and have only 14 varsity players. Matusewitch was the football quarterback and has a good bat. Adkins is a transfer who looks like a player and is a left-handed batter. "The whole thing for us is how quickly can you learn and how much," O'Brien said.

Mount Hebron Vikings

1996 record: 14-6 overall, 9-4 league

Coach: Pat Crouse

Top players: Brian Picker, Sr., P; Tom Perone, Sr., C; Randy Zwitch, Sr., P; Brian Cudzilo, Sr., SS, 2B; Todd Merkle, Sr., OF; Steve Sweich, Fr., 1B, P; Chris Mowry, So. P; Ryan Burgess, Jr., OF.

Outlook: The Vikings finished third in the county last season and expect to finish among the top three or four this season. Pitching is the team's strength, led by Picker, a second-team All-County player, and Zwitch, a 6-5 hard thrower. Merkle and Burgess are being counted upon for offense. Whether they can score runs is the Vikings' biggest concern.

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